Shank 2

Shank 2 Review

Bloody. Well done.
Author: Vincent Ingenito
Published: February 9, 2012
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A lone goon stands with his back to me, unaware of the gruesome death he's about to suffer. I run up to him and unleash a quick series of slashes with my shanks. Then, with an upward strike, I launch the hapless fool skyward and then blast him apart in midair with my shotgun. It's like skeet shooting but with a person. He pops, like a warm grape, into a satisfying cloudburst of blood and limbs. His remains haven't even hit the ground yet when two of his friends show up on the left side of the screen – one brandishing an assault rifle, and the other looking like 3 linebackers taped together.


The big guy rushes me while his partner gets into a firing stance. He tries to grab me but I roll right under him. Just as I get to my feet the gunner opens fire. Daggers drawn, I leap impossibly high into the air, right over the bullets. Everything slows to a crawl as the gunner looks up at me in terror. He knows how this ends. I crash down on him, and start violently smashing his head into the ground. His big, oafy pal tries to charge me again, so I pull my shotty and plug him one while keeping the gunner pinned down. The big man staggers, which gives me enough to time to pull out my sledgehammer and drop it head first into the gunners sternum, breaking him. His buddy is right on top of me now and rearing back to throw a haymaker. I recover just in time to counter it, snake around to his back and snap his neck like a dry twig. As he falls lifelessly to the floor, I'm already headed to the next screen.

After all, I'm Shank. I've got things to do, people to kill.

Shank 2 is in the business of bad-assery, and business is very, very good. “Awesome” never stops happening. What's really impressive though, is that thanks to the folks at Klei Entertainment, the scene I described above looks and plays just as cool as it sounds. While the game is neither as innovative, or as lengthy as some might wish, I'll be damned if it isn't one of the most fun, polished, and well designed side-scrolling action platformers I've ever played.

Shank 2 stands as a great example of just how instrumental visuals are in crafting a great game. That might sound obvious, but these days there seem to be a lot of people paying lip service to the idea of “gameplay over graphics” - as if we should just call these things we play “games” rather than “video games”. What often gets glossed over however, is that visually rewarding the player for even the simplest of actions, as a design concept, goes back to the beginning of the medium. Why couldn't we stop breaking every random block we happened upon in Super Mario Bros.? Hint: it wasn't for the extra 50 points. It was because breaking them looked and sounded really cool (for 1986).
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